Tuesday, January 21, 2014

My Favourite Kiwi Music - Most Definitely NOT a Definitive List!

Kia ora fellow kiwi music lovers!!  

This was hard - the more I think about the iconic, classic kiwi musicians and bands that have shaped who I am, and those that are emerging and will no doubt create future memories and shape the world we move into, the harder it became to narrow the list down! 

So, this set of music I share with you today are songs from the past and present, that I have loved and consider some of my favourites.    Please note - its not a definitive list and it won't be the last time I post about Kiwi music - of that I can be sure. 

12 Favourites 

The song that appeals to my inner rock chick….

1. Black Sheep - Gin Wigmore (2011) 

'Gotta pistol for a mouth - my own mother gave me that…' 
Gin Wigmore tops the list of one of the best recent artists to be produced by our beautiful country.  There is no way I could do a blog of my favourite kiwi songs without putting Gin at the top.   I LOVE the lyrics, the beat and her stunning voice.  I believe she is one of our best kept secrets and a real treasure.  This song makes my blood stir through my veins and gives me an energy bolt.  The 'pistol for a mouth' lyrics are ones I can relate to and I love this music video.  If you have never had the pleasure of hearing this gorgeous kiwi woman sing - then I recommend you check her out - I could fill up my blog post on my favourite Gin songs - thats how fabulous she is.  (I LOVE 'Too Late For Lovers' - beautify performed and written!)

Something eclectic and different, reminiscent of the 'Radio With Pictures' days...

2. Settle Down - Kimbra (2010)

Eclectic and intriguing as only Kimbra can be, this song is a recent favourite and I am adding this to the list for its funky video and clever use of music conventions to create a symphony of pure pleasure.  If you like to listen to something a little different and expand your music tastes, then this quirky number is sure to please! '

A song with a hook that drags me in every time...

3. Six Months in a Leaky Boat - Split Enz (1982)

This is an old school piece of kiwi music first released in 1982 (yes, I did say old school) - and one of my favourites of all time.  I love the instrumentals and the blend of pop and classical music.  Theres a nearly two minute 'grand opening' at the start of this music vid, which sets the scene.  I love the story behind this song.  The music is a tribute to the time it took early pioneers to sail to Australia and New Zealand.  The lyrics 'Tyranny of Distance' relates to a history book about how the geographical distance of Australia from Great Britain shaped and continued to shape the psychological attitudes of its citizens.  The_Tyranny_of_Distance:_How_Distance_Shaped_Australias_History Interestingly, this also ties into how the song is also a metaphor for the lead singers own journey of mental illness, when he suffered a nervous breakdown.   One last interesting fact is that during the Falklands crisis the song was 'discouraged from airplay' and was banned by the BBC as it was thought that references to 'leaky boats' would be detrimental to sailors morale!

A talent who will shape the future of music here and abroad…

4. Tennis Court - Lorde 

What list of kiwi music could you make that did not include Lorde?  This young kiwi talent from down the road is currently taking the world (by world I mean the US) by storm.  I love that she is quirky, determined to retain her uniqueness, and there is no mistaking her talent!  I particularly like this song - its lyrics speak of her new found fame and takes a pot shot at the luxurious lifestyle of the music industry.  Whether she continues to shun, and not embrace, the luxury inherent with fame and fortune will be something we will need to wait and see.  Her intelligent, well crafted lyrics and the beauty of her music means she deserves a spot in this list!

Most definitely the best opening sequence of all time and use of a Violin in a pop song…

5. Whaling - DD Smash (1983)

Another old school kiwi single that was voted as the 12th best New Zealand Song of the 20th Century. The opening bars of this song have always 'sung to my soul'.  The use of a violin to draw you in, and emotionally take you on a journey, is what has made this one of my favourites.  The beauty this song evokes, as I imagine the mercurial nature of our ocean and the remoteness of the wild west coast, will mean it will always be a song that represents what it is to be kiwi.  Whilst I am unsure of the history behind the song, for me, it is a reminder of our inner strength and ability to rise above the worries in our world, many of which are of our own making.   It is a quiet symbol of strength and a reminder of the spirt of survival.

A song that brings out the inner hippy and sings to the soul - and best mid song narrative ever….

6. Dance All Around the World - Blerta (1972)

Blerta (short for Bruno Lawrence Electric Revelation and Travelling Apparition) was a travelling theatre group, which moved around the country with a band of actors, musicians, lighting techies, filmmakers and their families.  Some well known and iconic kiwis, particularly Bruno Lawrence, were part of this eclectic group.  This song is an adaptation of a Margret Mahy story (a well known NZ children's author) called 'The Procession'.  One of the appeals of this classic piece of Kiwiana is the mini story narrated in the middle of the song.  The message of peace, love and dance appeals to the inner hippy inside us all.  That, along with its unique use of narration, and the link to one of my favourite childhood writers and a real kiwi hero for me - is why this song is one of my all time favourites.

Beautiful blend of Motown and Kiwi charm….

7. Wake Up - Aaradhna (2012)

I love this R&B pop song by Aaradhna.  A kiwi with Indian and Samoan ancestry, she has had a long history of great kiwi music.  What I particularly like about this song is it is a fun, funky upbeat piece of music that you can not help but want to sing along with.  I love the modern twist on a pleasurable sound reminiscent from the 1960s.  You could be mistaken in thinking that it was performed by one of the big Motown acts from the past.  Listen a little closer, and the lyrics and modern melodies bring you back to the modern world.  It is this mix of Motown charm and modern 'get your life sorted' kiwi practicality, that appeals to who I am as a kiwi woman and makes it into the list of one of my favourite kiwi sounds.

You can't have a list of music without some 'colourful' rap...

8. Swing - Savage (2009)

We can not have a kiwi list of music without some kiwi rap!  I love how this song made it big in the States and for the most part, you could be mistaken in thinking this music video featured rappers from anywhere but little ole NZ!   Apparently it made platinum!   It makes it into my list because its a little naughty and because I am a closet fan of some rap music, and I like Savage - I was a fan of his when he was with Deceptikonz back in the day - who didn't like Stop, Drop and Roll  (2003)- shhh our secret!

One of the best quirky love songs to sing along to …

9. Not Given Lightly - Chris Knox (1990)

Who would not love this classic kiwi love song?  Its chilled out and laid back pace is so kiwi, you can imagine a bonfire on the beach, a few 'lemonades' and a group of good friends having a great sing song whilst reminiscing about your first love.  Those of you familiar with the song - I know you are quietly singing along, tapping your toes and I am confident you are currently reliving your own memories of this iconic kiwi classic!

A pure classic by anyones standard….

10. Forever Tuesday Morning - The Mockers (1984)

I cannot compile a list of my favourite kiwi songs without adding The Mockers - the question for me was, which song would I choose?  I settled on this one but I have to make mention of One Black Friday, because I loved this song.   Back in the day I thought Andrew Fagan (lead singer) was just fabulous and this song was such a cheerful pop song that when you hear it makes you want to sing along.  It brings back memories of kiwi barbecues, road trips and good friends!

You can't have a list without these guys….

11. Why Does Love Do this to Me?  - The Exponents (1991)

I hear this song and I am instantly transported to my Uni days, with memories of Dunedin, the Uni life, singing at the top of my voice, and dancing like a woman possessed!!  Ask any kiwi who has ever been to a wedding, house warming, party of any kind or high school dance (in the past, now and I no doubt in the future - last time I heard it was at our end of year work function!) and they will tell you this is a classic kiwi song!  It is one song that will guarantee I will head to the dance floor, and for that reason it belongs in this list!  (and I know a few mates who would be a little cross if I failed to add an Exponents track!!)

It may not have been written about NZ but it sure describes it well…

12. Four Seasons in One Day - Crowded House (1992)

You can not have a list of my favourite kiwi songs without adding in this song!  I simply adore this song.  I love the hook - and I sing this like I am on stage with them.  We have it on our Singstar list and its always a song I choose to sing -not because I am able to ace it - but because its such a beautiful ballad to sing.  Although written about Melbourne, this song, to me,  represents the climate in NZ beautifully.  Particularly the city of Dunedin.  

Honourable Mentions

1. Save Yourself - Greg Johnson 

I love Greg Johnson.  His music is soulful, I love his lyrics and I think he is a talented artist.  Unfortunately, he has not found great international success, but he makes it onto my list because as far as I am concerned, he is a great kiwi musician.  This song, in particular, holds a special meaning for me, and I can not count how many times I listened to this song, healed from within and was grateful for its presence in my life.

2. Fade Away - Che Fu

This has always been a favourite of mine.  I think these muscicians are very talented!  I love the hip hop/R&B/reggie  sound.  Its a great video, has fabulous lyrics and overall it is a pleasure to listen to.  I like a lot of our kiwi hip hop - so I will sneakily sneak in a quickie by Christchurch Hip Hop artist Scribe (whose own story is inspirational for many young kiwis) Dreaming.

Watch this space - there are so many wonderful kiwi songs that I feel there may be more posts to come…after all…it will be NZ Music Month soon!

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